Degree Granting Department
Thomas H. Brandon, Ph.D.
David D. Drobes, Ph.D.
Jonathan Rottenberg, Ph.D.
Kristen Salomon, Ph.D.
self-regulation, addiction, tobacco, negative reinforcement, task persistence
Based on a model that considers self-control (SC) to be a limited resource, research
suggests that diminished SC resources increase the likelihood of smoking. Yet, no study
has evaluated how smoking affects SC resources. This study used a randomized, 2 x 2
crossed factorial (SC depletion manipulation X smoking manipulation), between-subjects
design to test the hypothesis that smoking restores depleted SC resources. To manipulate
SC depletion, half of the 132 dependent smokers were instructed to suppress their
emotional reaction to a brief video depicting environmental damage (i.e., Depletion),
whereas the other half were instructed to “act natural” (i.e., No Depletion) during
viewing. Half of the participants in each condition then smoked a cigarette, whereas the
other half sat patiently, without smoking (i.e., Smoke vs. No Smoke). All participants
then completed two behavioral measures of SC (Mirror Tracing Performance Task:
MTPT; and breath-holding). As hypothesized, a disordinal interaction occurred between
the Depletion and Smoking manipulations for duration of time spent on the MTPT. That
is, participants in the depletion condition showed less persistence on the MTPT, unless
they were permitted to smoke. There was no evidence for mediation of this effect from
the influence of smoking on affect and/or urge. Thus, smoking appeared to restore
depleted SC resources, independent of its effects on self-reported affect and urge.
Findings suggest that restoration of SC resources may represent another form of negative
reinforcement from smoking that may play a role in nicotine dependence, and could
inform treatment development.
Scholar Commons Citation
Heckman, Bryan W., "The Restorative Effects of Smoking upon Self-Control Resources" (2010). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.